by Dr Yasir Israr
Mental health has been taboo for a long time. Only recently it has been bestowed with the attention it deserves. However, the field of dental sciences still is reluctant to admit fully the amount of stress it induces to people associated with it.
Mental stress among dental practitioners
Collin et al. reported that more than 58% of dental practitioners experience occupational stress disorders. In contrast, another survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that dentists were 2.5 times more likely to have suicidal tendencies than the general population. Consequently, it can affect their quality of life and the dental services they provide.
Why dentists have poor mental health?
Despite these worrying statistics, there are no sympathetic concerns towards this profession.
Firstly, dentists spend more of their life bent in awkward musculoskeletal stress-inducing positions. Secondly, dentists work in small enclosed workplaces. Hence, they are causing social isolation from being at their clinics all day compared to conventional hospitals where they do get some measure of interaction with their colleagues. To sum up, they are expected to maintain a high professional demeanour.
Dentists also face societal pressure of not being considered ‘real doctors.’ They are considered one of the most hated health professionals, as reported by a survey in America. All these factors can quickly lead to mental exhaustion and burnout. At the same time, dentists are reluctant to seek help and admit such signs. This can also be due to social stigma.
How to cope with mental health issues?
Mental health is a serious concern for everyone. The affected and the people surrounding them, leading to incredibly terrible lifestyle choices and self-sabotage. A specialized training program which is tailored to the needs of dental professionals must be introduced. This can be initiated right at the level of graduate school to prevent such adverse mental health outcomes associated with this profession. There is also a dire need of today since psychologically healthy dentists will have more of a chance on imparting a positive effect on society.
-The author is contributing writer at Dental News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org